Dear Son

I will not bat an eye if you walk out wearing makeup one day, or a skirt for that matter. If you would rather wear polo shirts and khaki pants, I still wouldn’t flinch. I’ll love you no matter what, unconditionally, without an asterisk or expectations.

Dear Son,

I am writing this letter to you if you ever happen to be. Not by mistake on a drunken night, not as a surprise, not undecided, but probably after years of paperwork, prayers and hope. If you ever come to be, it will presumably be in a land that I don’t call my own. You will not tumble and turn in my stomach, nor in that of your other father’s, but you will still be ours, just as much. If you look like me, or if your skin is blessed with more melanin than mine, I will tell you that you’re handsome, that your skin looks like magic under the moonlight. If you happen to be paler, you’ll be just as beautiful, but I will remind you of your privilege if you ever forget. You might end up feeling attracted to girls when you grow up, or boys, or both, or none, or to people who don’t identify as either. I will try my best to tell you that you can fall in love with whomever you want when we get done with dinner on a Thursday night. I will also tell you not to touch the people you love without asking them, not to lean in for a kiss when they are drunk at a college party, not to take their bodies for granted even if they have mingled with yours before.

I will teach you to be kind, and to help the ones who don’t have it great in life, if you can. When you get hurt, as most kind people do, I will let you know that a benign man is way better than a “tough” one. When you need to cry it out you’ll have my shoulder till you feel better, and I won’t tell you that boys don’t do that. One of my favourite authors, Oscar Wilde, once said, “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” If that is true, I will try to make sure you have the best examples around. If you end up loving basketball or cricket, I’ll take you to train and go to all your games, and maybe embarrass you quite a lot by being the most enthusiastic parent in the audience. If you develop an interest in theatre, I’ll gift you your copy of “An Actor Prepares”. But if you want to colour your hair red when you’re ten, I will probably not let you, just to hold on to the brown-dad persona a little.

You will be born in a time when certain things you do or opinions you have will seem bizarre to me, just like how it is between my parents and me. I will try my best to understand your side, and I will bank on you to do a great job at explaining. I will make mistakes, as all fathers do, and I will pretend not to listen when you correct me, but I will listen and reflect. I will tell you that life won’t be easy while we stargaze over ice cream after your first heartbreak, and remind you to hold your head up high while I paint our conversations on constellations you can look at when I am not there by your side. I will tell you about my home, about the street hawkers and the chaos, about the fun nights and the warm mornings, about the people who have loved me most. I will mostly skip the bad and the ugly because you’ll find out either way. I will wish on you the best of friends and the worst of enemies; that way you’ll know who is what.

I will not bat an eye if you walk out wearing makeup one day, or a skirt for that matter. If you would rather wear polo shirts and khaki pants, I still wouldn’t flinch. I’ll love you no matter what, unconditionally, without an asterisk or expectations. And, if you gather up the courage to come and tell me that you are not a boy at all, I’ll give you a hug and whisper: “we will get through this, together.” I hope to imbibe the confidence in you, if the world ever tries to shove tar down your throat to silence your voice and hand you hate on a silver platter, to tell them: “you ought to meet my father.”

Lovingly,

Your Father.

About the guest author

Jishnu Bandyopadhyay

Jishnu Bandyopadhyay is a visual artist and writer from India, pursuing his bachelor's degree in Visual Communication. Alongside designing a mental health journal series, he creates art for impact. An International Writing Programme 2019 scholar and former UNICEF blogger, he loves exploring the nuances of human existence through art and writing, while staying true to his roots.